Crime Stories – Remembering Darlanne Fluegel (1953 – 2017)

Posted in Remember by - January 12, 2018
Crime Stories – Remembering Darlanne Fluegel (1953 – 2017)

For a while it seemed that cult beauty Darlanne Fluegel’s star would surely rise, and even though she went on to have an interesting film and television career, she would never quite reach the heady heights that some critics were hoping for. Still, in her many male-dominated movies, she more than managed to hold her own, battling both sadistic cops and villains in a handful of 1980’s action films.

Born in Pasadena, California, on November 25th 1953, Darlanne Fluegel carved out a successful career as a fashion model before retiring at 25 to pursue a serious acting career. Making her debut as (what else?) a fashion model, in the Faye Dunaway serial killer thriller ‘Eyes of Laura Mars’ (’78), Darlanne followed this with a bigger role in Roger Corman’s ‘Battle Beyond the Stars’ (’80), a sort of ‘Magnificent Seven in space’, playing a doctor’s daughter who runs off with Richard Thomas to help defend the peaceful planet of Akir.

After playing Robert De Niro’s girlfriend, who’s tortured to death, in ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (’84), Fluegel had perhaps her best known role, in William Friedkin’s cult thriller ‘To Live And Die In L.A.’ (’85). Famed for its exciting car chase sequence, Fluegel was excellent as the junkie informant lover of William L. Peterson’s secret agent, who finally betrays him. She was then the ex-wife of Billy Crystal’s cop, kidnapped by Jimmy Smits’ drug lord, in the uneven comedy-actioner ‘Running Scared’, before taking a shine to Kirk Douglas’s aging parolee in the wonderfully funny ‘Tough Guys’ (both ’86). Around this time Fluegel had the semi-regular role playing the wife of Dennis Farina’s tough Chicago cop, in the hugely popular 60’s set series ‘Crime Story’.

Back on the big screen Darlanne was Gary Busey’s old flame in the video favourite ‘Bulletproof’ (’88), before taking the lead role in the watchable thriller ‘Freeway’ (’88), playing a nurse obsessed with tracking down her husbands murderer, a serial killer played by Billy Drago. Following a small role in ‘Lock-up’ (’89) as inmate Sylvester Stallone’s worried girlfriend, Fluegel was back on the small screen in the seventh season of ‘Hunter’ (’90-91) as the show’s female lead; Joanne Molenski. A couple of forgettable horrors followed, firstly ‘Pet Sematary II’ (’92) playing Edward Furlong’s electrocuted actress mother. Then, ‘Slaughter of the Innocents’ (’93), yet another serial killer tale, as the wife of Scott Glenn’s tough FBI agent.

The following year she was reunited with Gary Busey for (you guessed it!) another serial killer flick; ‘Breaking Point’, and then ‘Relative Fear’ (both ’94) as the mother of a young autistic boy who may also be a killer. Fluegel’s final movie would be the direct-to-video sequel ‘Darkman III: Die Darkman Die’ (’96), playing a surgeon who once operated on Darkman when his laboratory blew up in the first movie. After retiring from the screen Darlanne later taught acting at a university in Florida, the State where she would remain until her death.

Divorced with a son and daughter, Darlanne Fluegel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when she was 56, and sadly died on December 15th 2017, aged 64. A tough cookie with piercing grey eyes, it seemed that she appeared mainly in cop related material, playing the love interests of either the good or bad guy. Still, Darlanne was always good value, and often very convincing in her roles. Not bad for a one-time model who’s now rightly remembered as a true cult star.

Favourite Movie: Tough Guys
Favourite Performance: To Live And Die in L.A.

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